How are you?

It’s amazing how such a simple question, “how are you?” Can be like a loaded gun. I think that 99.9% of people who ask automatically “how are you?” as part of their job don’t mean for you to tell them the truth. We ask that question, but yet we don’t really want more than a “good, fine, alright, okay” in response. I remember a few times especially with my Mom where someone asked her how she was and she told them the honest truth. And you know what happened? The person she told this to kind of had a freaked out expression, smiled awkwardly, and put some space between my Mom or just walked away with a mumbled okay in response.

I’ve tried to keep, “how are you?” out of my own routine. I am that person on the other end who gets that person who is at their wit’s end. They are not good, fine, alright, okay, they are pissed off, and then they will go off on this topic and some will even talk about it the entire massage. We don’t exactly want people to be honest, I don’t even know if we want people to answer. It’s just become a reflex response, like saying, “hello” when you pick up the phone.

I always seem to ask clients I know and have been seeing how they are. It’s not a reflex, I really do wonder if they’re okay, if things at work have been better, if they’ve gotten a better job, and if they’re managing their stress better.  Clients ask me how I am, and I don’t tell them the honest truth. I respond with, “okay, good, fine, ect.” because this time is about them, not me, and I don’t even let people I’m close to know what’s up.

I had such an interesting experience recently with a male client who has been seeing me for massages for about a year or more. He got a facial first and was the client who could tell that I was anxious/wasn’t myself just by the way I walked around the room. My lunch was bumped down, I didn’t have time to set-up my room like I normally do, and he had been waiting while I attempted to shovel a little bit of food down my throat. I was telling him what to do and that I’d step out when he looked at me and asked me again, “how are you?” So, I told him about my recent trip, the lower back strain, because I told him I’d share the details about my trip to Boston when I came back. He’s a huge traveler and goes all over the world, which I’d love to do but unfortunately can’t.

Next time you ask someone that question, or get asked it, think about what it means. It’s rather simple, but I think most people honestly can’t answer that in one word, yet we do, because almost every time asking that question tends to be a reflex we don’t even know we’re saying until we say it. Now, I know with friends and family it’s different, but with random strangers, you’re looked at pretty funny if you answer that question with more than one word.

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